How steel is made

Whyalla is the home of the Australian steel industry. Steel is made from iron ore, a compound of iron, oxygen and other natural resources that are mined and transformed into steel. Whyalla’s current steelworks operations use the blast furnace/basic oxygen steelmaking route to make steel.

Check out the steps below to understand more about the steelmaking process
  1. Mining overview

    Our steelmaking process starts with mining. We mine iron ore from the nearby Middleback Ranges and coking coal from Tahmoor, south west of Sydney NSW. Our use of magnetite iron ore will unlock low-carbon steelmaking technologies in the future.

    Iron ore

    Learn about our South Australian mining operations in the Middleback Ranges. We produce hematite iron ore for export; as well as hematite, magnetite ore concentrate, quartz from the Middleback Ranges and dolomite from our Ardrossan operation, for our Steelworks.

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    Coking coal

    Metallurgical coal, or coking coal, is required to make steel and is different to thermal coal (used for energy). We mine coking coal from our operations in Tahmoor, NSW. Learn about the journey of coking coal.

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  2. Ironmaking

    Steelmaking occurs by processing raw materials in a blast furnace to produce liquid iron. A blast furnace is used to remove oxygen from iron ore. This process is known as ‘reducing’ and involves injection of hot air into a continuous feed of coke, sinter and lime. The result is liquid iron which is then transported to the Basic Oxygen furnace. Take a look at this video which provides an overview of part of the ironmaking process, showing the coke ovens and blast furnace.

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  3. Steelmaking

    Liquid iron is transported from the blast furnace to the Basic Oxygen Steelmaking (BOS) furnace to reduce its carbon content from 4% to <0.5%. The liquid iron is added to scrap steel, which is placed first in the BOS furnace. Oxygen is then blown continuously for about 20 minutes, generating heat to melt the scrap and raise the temperature to about 1600 degrees celsius. The steel is ‘tapped’ from the furnace vessel into a steel ladle for casting. Depending on the steel grade being produced, the melt and treatment can be altered. This video gives a behind the scenes look at what happens once the liquid iron makes its way to the BOS furnace.

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  4. Casting and rolling

    Different steel products are produced through the casting and rolling processes. Molten steel is transported to the continuous caster building and the rolling mill for further processing.

    Continuous caster

    In this short video, learn about the casting process used to produce steel slabs, blooms and billets.

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    Rolling Mill

    Rolling Mill While semi-produced steel slabs are sent to downstream customers via road, rail and sea for further processing, blooms and billets are transported to the nearby rolling mill for further processing. The steel passes through rotating rolls to shape, straighten and lengthen the steel to specific dimensions or sections. At various stages the steel is cleansed with water at high pressure to remove mill scale. The sections are finally cooled and cut to length, before being transported for use or further manufacturing and finishing. Take a look.

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  5. A building block for modern life

    Steel is all around us and is a building block for modern life. From buildings, to bridges, offices to stadiums, Whyalla-made steel is a building block to modern Australia.

    Inland Rail

    Rail The Whyalla Steelworks is the only producer of long rails in Australia, and has supplied rail to every Australian state and territory. The steelworks has recently supplied product to the Australian Inland Rail project – a 1,700km rail project that will connect Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, NSW and Queensland. Take a look at this video about one of our deliveries from February 2019.

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    Optus Stadium

    The world’s most beautiful stadium Perth’s Optus Stadium, named the most beautiful sporting facility in the world in 2019, includes steel from the Whyalla Steelworks in its construction. Take a look at this virtual tour of the stadium.

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    Barangaroo South

    Barangaroo South has transformed the western shoreline of Sydney CBD, and includes steel from the Whyalla Steelworks. Take a look at the Barangaroo South masterplan video.

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